Julian Barnes

Two Spinsters Learn How to Enjoy Themselves Abroad

In the Vine Country


Virago 237pp £5.99 order from our bookshop

A good travel book doesn’t necessarily depend upon purity of concept, previous expertise, or length of stay. Of course, not having had the idea in the first place, arriving ignorant, and bunking off as soon as possible, aren’t faultless routes to truth and vividness. But Henry James’s A Little Tour in France, pungent and authoritative, was the suggestion of an editor at Harper, and didn’t take the novelist very long: as Leon Edel perhaps over-admiringly puts it, James ‘devoted all October 1882’ to the necessary voyage. Redmond O’Hanlon’s spectacular debut, Into the Heart of Borneo, began even more indirectly, as a newspaper commission not even to him but to his travelling companion James Fenton.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Lecture on war and peace in 19th-century Europe by Professor Sir Richard Evans, Thurs 25 Oct, 6.30pm Europe House… ,
    • 'Why, throughout the world, are so many people fascinated by the fiction and reality of espionage? And why of all p… ,
    • . here on books, Muriel Spark and life's tangled dance ,
    • RT : There aren't enough aggressive subtitles these days: ,
    • Churchill's on the cover of the October edition of the magazine. Piers Brendon reviews two new books about the Brit… ,
    • 'Readers have no more power to predict where the next story is going to take them than the prisoners had to determi… ,
    • 'Ho was no Soviet or Chinese puppet. He was a nationalist first and foremost. Had the Americans just realised this.… ,